Monday, May 12, 2008

No T.V.? Sheeeeeit.

"You didn't vote for Syesha? Sheeeit."

I was reading Arjewtino’s blog this morning where he wrote about the peer shame of texting in a vote for American Idol, but more importantly, the idea of dating a girl who doesn’t have a television set. I have to say that for a few years in my late teens and early twenties, I didn’t have a television set, (or a telephone or a computer.) I had a mattress on the floor in a room I had painted sky blue and airbrushed in multi-toned clouds. Ultimately I broke down and bought a tiny television set, and I have to say it was heaven to curl on the mattress at night, watching t.v. sideways. Life was a lot simpler then--and cheaper.

Growing up, I always had television. There is the famous moment in my family's history when my brother and I got up early on a Saturday morning to crank up the cartoon shows, and the television started emitting blue smoke, a strong electrical smell followed by a groggy Dad yanking the chord. I remember how upset my mother was, because part of the t.v. melted onto her oriental carpet; a carpet I have in my bedroom to this day. The bare spot is hidden, but I think it gives the carpet “character.”

There was only one boy in my elementary school that didn’t have television. I remember his name (which I won’t repeat here,) and I remember his family moved into the neighborhood when we were all in about fifth grade. For some reason, memory tells me his father was a German rocket scientist. Space, German and Mathematics, definitely. The boy’s hair was cut military short, and he always wore a gray crewneck sweatshirt to class. When he announced to his classmates that he had no television, I remember asking him what he did at night. He answered that he “spent time with his family, and his father helped him with his math homework.”

Thinking back, it’s odd, how such an obviously intelligent boy could be so removed from his classmates and his culture. I do know this. He was quite proud of the fact that he didn't watch television. Children spend the next day discussing what happened on t.v. as much as their adult counterparts at work. I was telling a friend about the comment I had left on Arjewtino’s blog, and he said, “I always thought of television as my third parent.”

I can’t imagine any parent in this day and age that wouldn’t utilize a television set in some manner. Blues Clues and Baby Einstein at the least. I am sure many censor the viewing subjects and viewing times. Some do not. Those parents are the same ones who take their kids to see the tee bagging in Borat, passing a pint of Barcardi 151 over the kid’s head.

"Where the Honey Nut Cheerios?"

It’s all kulturny. Me? I'd have my child watching The Wire (Season One Boxed Set) and him telling me he didn't like oatmeal for breakfast, "Where the Count Chocula re-up? You feel me on this, Yo?"

"5-0 Coming Y'all. 5-0"...and I don't mean Hawaii 5-0*

* In HBO's The Wire (Season One) a lot of the story line centered on the drug trade in the low rises (poverty apartments.) The drug runners would yell out "5-0" to warn and scatter that the police were in the vicinity. There was one episode when three police go into the projects at 2 a.m. to roust, and the residents in the inner courtyard start throwing televisions down on their heads and their cruiser (which is later destroyed.) Cultural nirvana would be yelling 5-0 is coming, throwing your t.v. out the window while watching a re-run of Hawaii 5-0. At that moment in the world, every coconut would drop from every palm tree and split open to reveal a beatific Buddha Wo Fat. Steve Lord in his big wave hair would descend on a big wave swell of clouds, hanging ten and yelling "Book 'em Danno."

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Blogger Barbara said...

I was never deprived of television growing up, but I have a hard time sitting down to watch anything now. I know there are good things to be seen, but I have no interest in finding them. I'm much more content to immerse myself in a book any day. Sounds sort of un-American, yes?

I do remember on my first visit to South America, as we drove in from the airport I noticed that even the shacks made from scrap metal all had a television antenna on top. TV: the opiate of the people?

3:21 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

I rarely watch either, Barbara. I have one friend I talk to online in the evening, and she's always amazed when I say I don't have the set on. I did watch The Wire on HBO when it aired, because the writing and acting were so incredibly strong...and it was filmed on location in Baltimore. I do a great deal of reading or house related matters in my spare time. I'm afraid "Deal or No Deal" has to take a back seat to "Laundry or no Laundry."

3:31 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

I don't like admitting this out loud for fear of the jinx, but here we go.

I contacted my cable provider and said, "I don't watch it, shut it off." They said they would be out that weekend to shut my cable off. That was two years ago. I don't pay for it, but I have it.

Now, I will tell you that I watch. But nothing primetime or any of the usual stuff. I'm addicted to Forensic Files, The Investigators, all the shows that start out with the ominous, "Small town usa is home to baseball and apple pie. When a body washed up on main street, the residents started locking their doors ad they wondered, 'could it be one of their own?'" Cue eerie music.

Sixes and I are working on a version of Forensic Files based on our dogs. The first run through this weekend was hilarious. "Detectives arrived and found Sammy had. 470. bones. hidden. in. his. bed."

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weeks will go by, maybe even months between times when I turn on the TV. Then I will click on the set to watch maybe one show -- anything Law and Order for instance - and then stay glued to it for 7 hours at a stretch. ~Erika

6:17 PM  
Blogger Hammer said...

Remember this P.E. classic? First thing that popped into my mind.

(This was the second thing. The Minutemen still hold up, and anyone who says different is lookin' for a streetfight.)

Come to think of it, Television holds up pretty well too. Have they sued the Strokes for malicious impersonation yet?

Okay, I'm done now. Sorry.

What were we talking about? Oh, TV.

When we were very little, my folks gave us fixed number of hours per week we could watch, so we had to be a little strategic about it. However, if I remember correctly, we could watch stuff Dad was already watching anyway without counting it toward our total. Needless to say, in addition to the usual kid shows, I'm pretty sure I saw every single episode of Black Sheep Squadron and Project U.F.O.. I was too young to know what the hell was going on, but even then I knew the following truth as surely as I know it today:

Airplanes and aliens RAWK!

(I also have vague memories of Bigfoot wrasslin' with Phil on the 6 Million Dollar Playa, but my memory's gone a bit fuzzy ever since that time I freebased pixie sticks in the third grade.)

6:21 PM  
Blogger dennis said...

Dennis says he watches less and less TV these days. When his human was a kid, the parents would have "TV FRee weeks" when the Tv was removed from the house for a week or two, and nobody minded at all!
then when my humans grew up they did the same thing, sometimes no TV in the house for years at a time. Dennis says it's necessary to have his TV tho, to watch old movies on TCM --Dennis has to have some Joan Crawford and Bette Davis...and Barbara Stanwyck from time to time. Irene Dunne... etc

8:41 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Velvet: You shouldn't have said it out loud. That's how jinxes work. I tend to watch the crime "whodunit" stuff myself. I could see the dogs in a criminal investigation show. "The Cold Nose Files." Getting to the bottom of who peed on the carpet behind the couch, finding out who left teeth marks in Sunday's roast chicken on the floor, Case of the Missing Squeak Toy." "Yer barking up the wrong tree, Sammy. That trail is dead."

Erika: Law and Order is totally addictive, and we've all seen the episodes so much we start looking for what characters in the distant background are doing, or trying to remember how many times a character actor has popped up on other episodes (He was a judge, a criminal AND a lawyer.) Last night, I saw "Omar" from The Wire playing a pimp on L&O: SVU. I have another friend wedded to Andy Griffith and knows all of the episodes. She's a big Andy fan. I always liked Floyd the Barber.


All great songs. There are a lot of songs that mention t.v., including The New York Dolls "Personality Crisis." It's interesting, too, how theme songs from t.v. shows become popular music listening like Baretta's Eye on the Sparrow (Sammy Davis), Friends "I'll Be There For You" (The Rembrandts...and the only reason you'll even know who this group is,) and Black Flags "TV Party Tonight."

I always loved Elvis Costello's Watching the Detectives, even though that's based on film noir, because TCM did a montage of those movie shots using that song as an ad for their upcoming detective week on tv.

I still mean to use those twangy opening notes and chunky rhythm as one of my ringtones. When that ad came out my friends all screamed "That is SO you."

How many children asphyxiaxed on Pixie Sticks? They still make them:

A friend said (re Pixie Sticks,) "How come they never sold cocaine that way?" P-DUST!!!

Dennis has excellent taste in everything and would know that Mildred Pierce was on this week. Jezebel was on last night at 1:30 a.m. I used to see that movie on tv as a child and prance around saying things like:

"Aunt Belle: Child, you're out of your mind. You know you can't wear red to the Olympus Ball.
Julie: Can't I? I'm goin' to. This is 1852, dumplin,' 1852. Not the Dark Ages. Girls don't have to simp around in white just because they're not married.
Aunt Belle: In New Orleans they do. Julie, you'd insult every woman on the floor."

Cut to tiny Cube holding up fingers and saying "Jungle Red" from "The Women."

It was an odd childhood.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Oddly, my father would constantly threaten my brother and me that he would "throw the TV away". What?? We would always laugh about that after he got out of earshot. As if he would throw a big, beautiful 36" TV in the trash can. Get real, Dad!!

re: Hammer's comment - rest in peace, Andre the Giant. No one played Sasquatch better than you.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Loralee said...

When I was two, Betwitched was on , the tv blew up, and that was the last my family had one. I would stay over at my grandmother's house, and watch the Love Boat and Fantasy Island with her on.. Saturday nights, I think, occasionally. And when another family with an only girl child moved 2 houses down, I'd watch some over there, too. But mostly, I read. A lot. I didn't actually own a set until I was about 23, a Black and white one, which, when I moved back to MA from VA was stolen from my car (You HAD to break the tiny passenger window, which cost $300 to replace, didn't you, for a 15 year old b/w tv...) in a Home Depot parking lot in Charlestown. Bastard.

Anyway, I no longer OWN a television set, but the house I live in has a plethora of them, and I have one in the bedroom. I go from watching none to watching too much to none again.

There are some great shows on,
and I just thank whoever invented
tivo, because I couldn't stand to watch otherwise.


4:13 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: That and the radio. I actually did have my radio taken away for a week once. I forget what infraction I committed. As for Andre the Giant. My brother met him in a bar where wrestlers hung out in Baltimore, not too long before he died. I actually saw him wrestle once. I used to watch wrestling on tv...back when it was real **HUGE KAWF** Loved Junk Yard Dog, Flying Jimmy Snooka. Great entertainment for kids and still is. I went to a few wrestling matches. Same crowd that goes to see the giant truck exhibitions.

Miss Thi Hi: One of the few people I know who reads as fast if not faster than me. I'm rather indifferent to television. There have been a few HBO series I've followed like Deadwood or Sopranos or The Wire. I love good writing, which is why most of what's on is of zip interest to me. As for the t.v. theft. Charlestown huh? THAT's a surprise. ::giving Lee a shove::: Actually, Charlestown is known for it's armored car robberies. Highest in the country at one point, if not still. I read a great novel about Charlestown and robberies..what was it? Hmmm. Prince of Thieves--Chuck Hogan. Seek that one out.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

OMG. What a great post! Cube this one is one of your top five. Wow.

Your post explains, once and for all, why I am such a FREAK! I grew up without television. My parents said, over and over (like a broken record) that


OK. That was in 1967 or 68. Little did they know that soon enough we should turn our minds to mush with various organic substances originating in Oaxaca or Thailand. Heh!!

I never owned a TV, never even wanted one (though I watched TV with a whole variety of roommates over the years) until September 12, 2001. That day I bought my first TV. I've been watching ever since, trying to catch up on all the old shows, getting various addiction, first to the re-runs of The X Files, next I think it was Star Trek, The Next Generation. Or was it Buffy the Vampire Slayer ?

Still can't tolerate commercials (hit the mute and go do something for a few minutes) but I've gotten into the habit, oh yeah.
I've always been a late bloomer.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

that we "should"?

Of course I meant that we would. It was destiny.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Reya: The only thing I was watching with any regularity lately was The Wire, hence all my little inside references tucked into this piece...perhaps a tad too obscure.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Cube, you realize that a large majority of those wrestlers you grew up to love came out of Georgia?

World Championship Wrestling was owned by Ted Turner (which eventually got swallowed up by the WWE & Vince McMahon).

The idea of hiding blinding powder in the front of one's tights was from the Playaz' style of fighting in those days.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: I didn't know about that. I did know, however, that The Playaz will use any tactic in a fight, to win.

9:45 AM  
Blogger All Things Bright and Beautiful... said...

Cube - we dont have a TV. Havent had one for 7 years - dont miss it at all. I am totally serious.

9:43 AM  

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